VIDEO: CASCO+R|5 Rebrand a Name You Didn’t Know You Knew

By on September 22, 2018

by Tom Finan, Executive Director, Construction Forum STL

If you’ve been to some of St. Louis’ signature restaurants — Vicia, Brasserie by Niche, or Chef Gerard Craft’s new Cinder House in the Four Seasons Hotel — you’ve seen the work of one of the most visible integrated STL design/build firms you may never have heard of, CASCO + R|5.

Throughout its 60 years in business, the company has made its mark on projects ranging from GUESS stores in Beverly Hills and New York, to 2,200 Home Depot stores plus that company’s distribution centers. Thursday, the CASCO+R|5 celebrated a rebranding after six decades in business with a party that also introduced its new headquarters on  Sunnen Drive at Maplewood.

The party featured elevated cocktail party fare at a level seldom seen at construction and development events, including appetizers by Vicia  restaurant and pastries by Nathan Reid Bakery, both recognized as among the tops in their fields nationally

This year CASCO Diversified re-branded as CASCO + R|5. The new name reflects the company’s collaborative, full suite of architecture, engineering, civil engineering and design services. CASCO evolved from a civil and structural engineering firm originally established by E. George Cassis, P.E. in Litchfield, IL in 1959.   Cassis was a civil engineer. He held a bachelors degree from the University of Missouri, a Masters from Yale, and a Ph.D. from Yale and Columbia universities.

Cassis relocated his firm to Kirkwood in 1962. It became incorporated as Cassis Associates, Inc. in June of 1963.  Around 1965, in a joint venture with William Tao and Associates, electrical engineers, Cassis Associates built a new office building at 2357 59th Street in south St. Louis.  The new facility was shared by both firms. Within a year of the firm’s inception, services were extended to include architectural work for commercial and industrial clients. Subsequently, services were expanded to cover site selection, interior furnishings, mechanical and electrical work, industrial engineering, materials handling and construction management.

Becoming one of only a few full-service firms in St. Louis at that time, CASSIS Associates, Inc. billed itself as an organization of engineers, architects and construction consultants. The firm’s projects were located throughout the United States as well as in a number of foreign countries. CASSIS Associates performed projects for office buildings, grocers, restaurants, banks and other sectors. The firm especially thrived in light industrial projects.

Building on Big Boxes

In June of 1980 the assets of Cassis Associates were acquired by six of its employees and the firm was relocated to  Sunset Hills. James C. (JC) Alberts, P.E. became the company’s president.  Initially, light industrial remained the firm’s focus. One of the first large scale projects built under this new management was a corrugated paper box plant in Georgetown, Guyana, South America f Meanwhile, the company was also completing its first projects for a small retailer that would soon sweep the United States, Toys ‘R’ Us.

JC Alberts saw an enormous opportunity in retail store development.  The firm would pioneer store prototype development and adaptation as a construction document preparation process. In April of 1985, the company took the name of CASCO Corporation. Toys ‘R’ Us would become the first “category killer” big box type store. CASCO would go on to add The Home Depot, Circuit City, PetSmart. Bed Bath and Beyond, and many, many more. Thousands of successful projects were completed during this era, and the company grew to more than 250 people at one point. CASCO also began offering site development coordination for national retailers and developers and became an early adopter of BIM technology.

Formation of R|5 Design Studio

The R|5 team is the design studio within CASCO + R|5 and is led by Design Principal S. Aleksandr Malinich. R|5 was launched three years ago to compliment CASCO’s architecture and engineering services.  “ R|5 is an acronym which defines our collaborative process and the core philosophy, through which we realize our designs,” Malinich said. The acronym stands for “Reflect, Respond, Refine, Resolve, and Resonate.”

R|5 is a multi-disciplinary design studio operates in the fields of commercial, residential design and research. The company’s practice includes  a variety disciplines and  physical environments, including site master planning, hospitality, restaurant, dwelling, workplace, luxury and specialty retail, as well as shopping centers, mixed-use properties, and exhibit design.

 The firm’s website states, “R|5 excels by integrating the designed environment into the social and economic fabric of the city. We implement a threefold strategy – 1: that is exploratory and intuitive, 2: providing thorough research, analysis and professional accountability and 3: the partnering of exceptionally gifted individuals and artisans, bringing their various talents and abilities to our projects.”


About Tom Finan